474 Laura DiBenedetto:

Today on our Mentoring Minisode of Wings of Inspired Business … we talk about how entrepreneurs can best cope with the challenges of coronavirus. Why it’s vital to think like an investor …why we have to be quick and willing to pivot to fast-changing circumstances… and why the smartest entrepreneurs succeed because they follow the problems and find smart solutions.

Here with us today to provide her insights and inspiration is …

Laura DiBenedetto.

Laura is a serial entrepreneur and the author of The Six Habits, teaching us how to create the life of our dreams without changing who we are. As Founder and CEO of Vision Advertising, she has helped hundreds of companies build and grow profitable enterprises.

Laura DiBenedetto will be here with her advice in just a moment on our Mentoring Minisode and first …

And now to the inspiring Laura DiBenedetto.

Laura knows what it takes to pivot fast to meet changing circumstances. Grappling now like every business owner with the impact of coronavirus … on our teams, our clients, our prospects, Laura shares important advice today you won’t want to miss.

She’s the founder and CEO of the award-winning marketing company, Vision Advertising. Laura created, built and ran the growth-oriented enterprise for 19 years with tremendous success, before retiring from active involvement in 2018 at age 37, passing the reins to her successor. Over the years, Laura personally sold several million dollars in ongoing contracts and was named a 40 Under Forty winner at only age 23. Yet when she retired she was simply burnt out and unhappy. After years of classes, workshops, books, and more, Laura was

confused and wondering why the personal development world had let her down and sought to solve the problem. She went on a radical journey of self-discovery, research,and testing, determined to find energy and lasting, fulfilling happiness in all areas of life.

She found her answers with 6 Habits that will help anyone and everyone find their way out of misery and into lasting, fulfilling happiness and limitless possibility. Its wisdom that enables her to see with clarity how to navigate the coronavirus crisis without fear – plus powerful tips for women in business on how to leverage our feminine power, stop seeking permission and never fear ruffling a few feathers.

Melinda Wittstock:         Laura, welcome to Wings.

Laura DiBenedetto:         Thank you. It’s great to be here.

Melinda Wittstock:         It’s great to have you and I always usually start these mentoring minisodes with what’s inspiring you and, of course, in the midst of all the coronavirus fear and panic really, where’s the inspiration? I know there’s got to be some inspiration somewhere for business owners. How are you dealing with it?

Laura DiBenedetto:         There’s inspiration everywhere but you have to think like an investor. An investor takes a look at what’s going on in the world, in the markets, and instead of panicking, they just look for opportunity, realizing that down markets are opportunities to buy. So if we think like investors, we look at things that are a little chaotic and there’s opportunities for us to flourish and our businesses can thrive, but the trick is that we have to be willing to pivot.

Laura DiBenedetto:         We need to take a look at what we’re doing now and if it’s really heavily dependent on foot traffic, for example, let’s say you own a restaurant, it looks like you need to change your business to one of really safe delivery so people can still buy from you. But they don’t have to physically be around other people to do it. You don’t have to expose your servers and stuff like that. Or you can start a business you’ve always wanted but you got to be prepared to pivot and do something entirely different and solve problems.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, it is always really an opportunity and not being willing to pivot means you have to be willing to embrace and accept change and change is tricky for people. I think entrepreneurs are more hardwired to just change. It’s just part of the program. But I’m thinking there are all these restaurants around where I live and there’s a real demand right now for nice meal deliveries. Great idea. Absolutely.

Melinda Wittstock:         I think in these sorts of times, too, if you have… All your employees are at home there’s all this extra time where you’re not commuting. There’s extra time to work on different projects that maybe you’ve put off. There’s all sorts of things like that to do.

Laura DiBenedetto:         Totally, totally. It’s what I’ve been talking about lately. I’m trying to get people to number one, not panic. Just stay home. But also use this as an opportunity to be resilient. I think that’s not every person that has jumped into entrepreneurship has taken it on as, “I’m an entrepreneur,” sometimes they just want to own a job and this is an opportunity for the people that wanted to just own a job to really step into those big entrepreneur boots and be like, “Okay, I’m creative. I can do this. I’m a problem solver.” I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for people to really see what they’re made of.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, there’s a big difference between being a business owner and being an entrepreneur business owner in that sense where we really learned to embrace change and I love that. Thinking like an investor.

Melinda Wittstock:         There was a wonderful Facebook posts that I saw just today where Isaac Newton was just staring out in his garden and saw the apple fall from the tree because there was enough time to just be sitting quietly and to get some kind of inspiration. I know so many of my inspirations come when I just finally find the time to quiet my mind or meditate or whatever.

Melinda Wittstock:         When you think of your own business, Laura, what are some of the challenges that you have right now? Are there ways that you need to pivot in this moment?

Laura DiBenedetto:         Sure. I own two companies. I own a marketing company on the East Coast and I also own a learning enterprise here in Maui. The marketing company is affected. This is something where people are scared. Their revenues are dipping because people are not patronizing their businesses as much because the whole stay at home thing, which people should be doing. They should not be just cavalier about it be like, “Oh, well, I’m going to support my small business by going there,” and potentially spreading or contracting something.

Laura DiBenedetto:         It’s taking a hit that way. So what we’re doing as a company with the marketing company is we’re pivoting to provide lots of education and support to give people a new way of doing things. It’s like, “Okay, I know you’re heavily dependent on revenue this way. You need to pivot and fast and so let’s mastermind and figure this out.” We’ve become like master problem solver partners. So that’s pretty cool.

Laura DiBenedetto:         For my second company, for the learning, it’s giving me an awful lot of time to stay at home to think about things and be very productive. So that’s good.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, It’s an opportunity to get really close with your customers. Because if you’re using this time to really mastermind with them and really help them, that’s gold. That’s gold to them. They know that you’re there for them. It’s really a time to actually deepen relationships even though we have all this social distance. Keep six feet away from everybody thing going on. It doesn’t mean we can’t pick up the phone or get on Zoom or do [crosstalk 00:05:54].

Laura DiBenedetto:         Absolutely. We’re doing webinars. We’re doing one-on-one support. We’re doing all sorts of things because at the end of the day, a smart entrepreneur follows the problems. Follow their problems and start creating solutions because I can tell you right now… I started my first company at 19 years old. My 19-year-old self would have been like, “Oh my God, what am I going to do? Oh my God, what am I going to do?” Panicking, and not realizing that I’m dealing with a bunch of scared people just like myself. If I can actually creatively solve their problem, I really don’t even need to think about my own anymore because it solves itself.

Melinda Wittstock:         That is so true. Let’s segue to the advice part of the Mentoring Minisode. Along the way… You started out as an entrepreneur at 19. There’s probably lots of lessons you’ve learned along the way, Laura, what would be the top three pieces of advice you would give to female founders and business owners generally or just specifically in this crisis?

Laura DiBenedetto:         That’s a great question. There’s a lot of different things that I think that women entrepreneurs really have the opportunity to do in business and I think we really need to number one, just be more aggressive. Learn to master your masculine energy. I’ve seen the women that are far, far, far too soft spoken and they get locked on and it sucks and women are really trained to be small and polite and courteous from birth.

Laura DiBenedetto:         Then I’ve also seen the opposite where it’s women feel like they need to be more like men in business and they’re just very domineering and very intense. You can really have masculine and feminine energy and you can balance those two things, but you just need to be confident enough to pull it off. That’s advice number one.

Melinda Wittstock:         Wonderful.

Laura DiBenedetto:         Thank you. Advice number two, don’t lose what actually makes you a woman. This goes in line with the first piece of advice. Use the masculine energy and then find a balance but also don’t lose the things that makes you female. Women and men lead differently and women have, by and large, a naturally more nurturing quality, which allows us to lead in a different way, to solve problems from a different perspective, to listen, find opportunities in a different way and if we lose a lot of our organically given gifts, that would be silly.

Melinda Wittstock:         Absolutely true. Gosh, I know this that so much of my 20s and 30s were very much in that masculine energy and I think, as I got a little bit older, I learned more to embrace the feminine and for me, that’s where the real power and ingenuity and so many really good things have come from. Stepping into that 100%. All the empathy that we have, harnessing intuition, all these things that used to be called soft power, they’re just power.

Laura DiBenedetto:         Exactly.

Melinda Wittstock:         What would be number three?

Laura DiBenedetto:         Number three is, and I really, really, really hope that whoever is listening takes this very seriously, please stop seeking permission and feeling bad for being a leader. You’re going to upset people when you make the right decision. You can’t make the popular decision and want people to like you. Ruffle feathers. Upset people. Unless you’re selling ice cream, you’re not going to make everybody happy. At the end of the day, it’s really just a matter of understanding that leadership is going to be polarizing.

Laura DiBenedetto:         Look, not for nothing, I still have my company 20 years later and it’s going to survive this whole COVID-19 crisis because I’m not afraid to make decisions like a leader and I’m really good with it. If people don’t like me… Because the right decision doesn’t stop being the right decision if people don’t like me.

Melinda Wittstock:         Beautifully said. Women are… We’re all acculturated to want to be liked and so that can be really difficult for a lot of women to just be brave enough. I love this phrase. What other people think of me is none of my business.

Laura DiBenedetto:         Yeah, I like that one, too. It’s interesting. But I think maybe the one thing that has helped me a lot over the years to be a better leader, to really be balanced, and all that other stuff is having a very strong social network. When I have a very strong social network and I’ve got my girlfriends and I’ve got my family and I’ve got a circle of people that are very, very close to me, I’m okay with other people not liking me because I realized, “No, it’s all good.”

Laura DiBenedetto:         These are the people that see me for who I really am so I’m less inclined to be approval seeking from the masses or business partners that aren’t really close to me and see me for who I really am. Because I’m getting all that nurturing elsewhere and that compartmentalization has given me incredible power.

Melinda Wittstock:         Absolutely. How can people find you and work with you, Laura, in either of your two businesses?

Laura DiBenedetto:         The marketing company you can find us online at vision-advertising.com. For my education business, I’m teaching people all about habit and how to step into their dreams by developing an unshakable relationship with themselves. You can learn about that at thesixhabits.com, six is spelled out, thesixhabits.com.

Melinda Wittstock:         Wonderful. Thank you so much for putting on your Wings and flying with us today.

Laura DiBenedetto:         It’s really a pleasure.

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